Drawing: Tuppence Middleton, John Hopkins and Julia Sandiford in The One

Autographed drawing of Tuppence Middleton, John Hopkins and Julia Sandiford in The One at the Soho Theatre in London's West End

Vicky Jones’ vicious relationship drama, THE ONE, originally staged in 2014, returned to the Soho Theatre for a two-month residency, ending this weekend.

One night, one room. Sexy, messed-up oddball couple, Jo (Tuppence Middleton) and Harry (John Hopkins) are drawing the battlelines of their relationship with sex, violence and throwing Wotsits (that’s a British brand of cheesy flavoured corn puffs for the uninitiated). They are trapped in a destructive cycle of love and lust, interrupted by an upset visitor, Harry’s former lover Kerry with her own agenda, who ‘re-equips’ the couple when they run out of ammo.

Described as ‘sadistic games of bored people’ a ‘forensic unflinching examination of the casual cruelty couples inflict on each other.’ In his review for WhatsOnStage, Alun Hood said, “The acting is astonishing: detailed and unsparing… a tremendously accomplished fusion of writing, performance and stagecraft, that entertains as much as it shocks.”

John, Tuppence and Julia kindly signed my montage scribble a couple of weeks ago at the Soho.

Drawing: John Hopkins in Holy Warriors

John Hopkins Holy Warriors

I am an unashamed fan of the British TV series MIDSOMER MURDERS. John Hopkins featured in 14 episodes as DS Daniel Scott, sidekick to John Nettles’ DCI Tom Barnaby. After leaving the show he returned to the stage. One of his recent theatrical appearances was in the critically acclaimed HOLY WARRIORS at Shakespeare’s Globe last year.

The David Eldridge play centres on Richard I’s Third Crusade against Saladin over the possession of Jerusalem, the medieval clash between Christianity and Islam that has lead to a direct line to the violence still engulfing the Middle East today. Richard is one of the few English Kings that is still known by his epithet – Richard the Lionheart, rather than his Regnal number. He had an ignominious ending, killed while laughing at a defender of a castle he was besieging who was using a frying pan as a makeshift shield.

John played the ‘Coeur de Lion’, receiving excellent reviews.

I drew this sketch of John as Richard, which gave me the chance to meet him last Saturday at London’s Tricycle Theatre where he is currently featuring in the hilarious spoof BEN HUR. He happily signed this drawing, while we discussed the general state of the world and… MIDSOMER MURDERS.

Drawing: Ben Hur at the Tricycle Theatre

Ben Hur

The William Wyler 1959 blockbuster BEN HUR won 11 Oscars with a cast of thousands, including 10.000 extras, 365 speaking parts, 2,500 horses, a swelling score, the entire Roman Empire, chariot racing, sea battles, a galley of half-naked slaves, glistening torsos, Charlton Heston, did I mention the Roman Empir…oh yes I did. Tim Carroll’s production is a more modest version, not quite the biblical proportions of the original epic, but has kept some elements and a cast of….ur …four. But an excellent one  at that.The energetic quartet playing  hapless fictional thesps, staging the show are John Hopkins, Ben Jones, Richard Durden and Alix Dunmore who endlessly recycle themselves into various characters.

I remember seeing John in the ‘superlatively skewered’ Hitchcock spy spoof THE 39 STEPS a few years ago. The hit show, which was described as one of the best things to come out of the West End in the last decade, played London’s Criterion Theatre for nine years, winning multiple awards and is currently on a National Tour.

The very same playwright, Patrick Barlow is responsible for this pocket-sized, ‘redux maximus’ adaption, which began life in 2012 at The Watermill Theatre in Newbury, and has been subject to numerous rewrites since. The latest version is currently being staged at the Tricycle Theatre in North London.

“The thing with bad comedy is that it needs, paradoxically, to be really good indeed to be funny and this is very funny”, declared Jane Shilling in The Telegraph. She says ‘The jokes are signalled from so far off that when they arrive, you greet them like old friends.” Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard decreed it “a palpable hit.”

I drew this sketch of John, Richard and Alix from the promo poster. It’s probably not right that Ben is missing from a BEN HUR drawing, so I will have to do a separate one and return. I caught up with them after last Saturday’s matinee and got the sketch signed.

It runs until 9 January at the Tricycle, although John said that it may transfer to the West End.